Authors Note: First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has read...well what is the beginning of my story anyhow. Also, please review. That way I can get the feedback needed to write this story better. To those who have sent reviews, I appreciate your positive comments, those that might not be as positive...well, I do accept the comments and well... nevermind.
akuma-Kyuubi: Thanks for the complements. I'll try to update whenever I can.
cursed chaos kitsune Kyuusune: Again, I appreciate your words. I will make sure that this story grows.
ladynaruto13: Oh I shall.
kyuubi91: Two things. One, Kakashi may have, ok; he was an ass to Naruto during the Chuunin Exam by only focusing on Sasuke. But not only does this story start before then, Everybody makes mistakes, no matter how large they are, there still mistake and can be forgiven. Think of it this way, this story partly follows the path of 'what if Kakashi paid more attention to Naruto?' alright? And two, thanks for the info on the summoning scroll. It'll help clear things up later on.
Quathis: Once again I appreciate your comment. And don't worry; this won't be a super Naruto fic.
Burnning Truth: I know I did. And again I'll update as soon as possible. About the pairing...you'll just have to wait and see.
Empress-Dragon: About the pairing...read above reply. Also about the summons...again read above.
Calimora: Your complements give me a smile. I do try to put them in character. I also fixed the text author notes, though I do know that they gave a few readers a good chuckle. Also about the realization, it's just how I thought it should have gone through. Sure some fics have been done very well with the other sort of realization but, I'm trying to do something different, something not many have read in a while.
Again I thank all those who have replied. Now on with the story.
"blah" people talking
blah' people thinking
"blah" inner Sakura and/or Biju/summoning talking
'blah' inner Sakura and/or Biju/summoning thinking
"blah" jutsu usage
The Fox Sennin
Training, Tests and Truths
It was just before morning, with a thick mist rolling in on the calm morning waters, that Naruto began to wake from his slumber. As he sat up in the futon he had slept in for the past week and a half during his stay in wave, he yawned while rubbing the last bit of sleep out of his eyes. He stretched, hearing joints pop, as he got up to start his day. 'That's actually the best I've slept in I don't know how long.' He mused to himself as he got dressed. Taking a glance at the clock positioned on the wall opposite his bed, he saw that it read 7:39 AM.
While getting out of bed, his mind replayed the previous night's events. It brought a smile to his face when he thought of the training he would do. He soon realized that when it was his shift to go watch the bridge, he could train there as well, minding that he doesn't do anything destructive… well, too destructive.
'I'll talk to Kakashi-sensei to see if we can do chakra control first.' He thought as he finished dressing, while leaving the orange jacket off having only his black shirt on. As he finished putting on his pants, he grabbed his hitai-ate and was about to put it on his forehead when he past a mirror which made him stop to look. He concluded that with his hair down, he looked a bit like the late Yondaime, only younger, shorter hair and 3 'whisker'-like marks on each cheek. His mind decided, he tied his hitai-ate on his left bicep, noticing for once that his arms were quite toned. 'Well I did basically wear that Kami-forsaken jumpsuit 24-7 for the past few years, so even I didn't notice.' He thought to himself while giving a small chuckle. As he left the room, he saw Inari, who had just passed his door, and called out to him.
"Yo, Inari. How'd did you sleep?" He asked with a cheerful tone.
"Not bad, how about you Naruto…-nii-…san?" Inari said as he turned around to greet his hero. He was definitely surprised to see how different his 'nii-san' looked. He snapped out of his shock when he noticed Naruto in front of him, with a confused look on his face while shaking a hand in from of Inari's face.
"Gomen-ne nii-san. But I gotta say, you look awesome like that. A whole lot better than before. No offence." Inari gave a small sheepish shrug while smiling at Naruto. Naruto just smiled back, a real smile mind you, and patted Inari on the head.
"None taken Inari. Now how about we go and see if we can have some breakfast alright?" He asked as they wondered down the hall. Inari nodded before turning forward then continuing to lead Naruto to the kitchen.
When they arrived, they saw Tsunami, Tazuna's daughter and Inari's mother, busy at the counter, cooking while humming a tune to herself; Kakashi was in a corner while reading his latest issue of Icha Icha Paradise; Tazuna wasn't present so they assumed he was at the bridge; and finally both Sakura and Sasuke were sitting at the table with Sakura facing Sasuke and Sasuke ignoring everything around him.
"Ohayo, minna-san." Naruto called out making everyone turn to the sound.
"Ohayo, Naruto…-kun." Tsunami stumbled slightly in her greeting with a slight blush on her cheeks as she looked at Naruto's new look, though she hid it well. 'Well I must say, he's definitely a lot more well built then he led on…' she thought to herself as she smiled at him, gave a nod, say good morning to Inari, then continue her cooking.
When Sakura turned to see the source of the greeting, she could not believe her eyes. 'That's Naruto? Since when was did he look so…hot?' she thought as she simply gaped, wide eyed with a blush somewhat deeper than Tsunami's. ("What do you mean he looks hot?! Who cares for that blond baka, its Sasuke-kun you've got to be ogling right...right? Hello? Earth to Sakura? Oi!" Inner Sakura screamed) 'I gotta say though, he looks so much better than before.' She continued while ignoring whatever her Inner Sakura might be saying. She soon went oblivious to her surroundings while staring at her blond team mate.
Sasuke, well…he was just brooding too much at that moment to really notice anything.
And Kakashi. His eye widened considerably and even the hand holding his book went somewhat slack, not enough to drop the book, but you get idea. He recovered quickly and continued to read with a smirk behind his mask, though no one could really notice. 'Sensei, he looks so much like you. He'll certainly make a few heads turn when we return home.' He gave a slight chuckle to himself before putting away his book and spoke up to Naruto, after said pupil had asked Tsunami where Tazuna was, to find out that he was in bed sleeping after a long night of drinking.
"Ohayo Naruto. Sleep well I presume." He asked as his blond student turned to him.
"Hai sensei. Although I didn't get to sleep till I was able to calm myself down some from all the excitement about what's about happen." He said while flashing a small smile.
"What's to be so excited about Dobe?" Sasuke asked with a smirk on his face as he turned to Naruto, only to see a quite bored blond.
"Two things teme. Firstly, might I remind you that it was the 'Dobe' that thought up the plan to rescue our sensei from Zabuza's Suirou-no-jutsu?" He said to which Sasuke turned away with a huff.
"And secondly, Kakashi-sensei didn't tell you?" –Insert light chuckle here- "Typical." Both his chuckle and grin grew at Sasuke's death glare.
"What do you mean by th-"
"Let him finish Sasuke!" Sasuke's outburst was cut short by Sakura, which was a surprise for everybody. Also what came as a surprise, mainly to Sasuke was that she didn't add the usual '-kun' suffix to his name. Kakashi, after quickly recovering from the initial shock, gave a silent chuckle.
'Maybe there is some hope left.' No sooner had he thought that though, Sakura fully realized who she just said that to and the thoughts of hot blonds was completely erased from her mind. 'I can't believe I just did that to Sasuke-kun, Uchiha Sasuke! I shouldn't have done that but, why do I have a strange feeling of satisfaction from doing that?' She soon mentally shook herself and voiced part of her thoughts.
"Gomen for my outburst Sasuke-kun, but we should at least listen to what he's got to say. And Naruto? Um…I…I would like to say that I'm sorry for how I treated you before. Do you…do you think we could start out new?" She asked while finding her shoulder very interesting at moment. When she glanced at Naruto, she let out a small gasp at the smile he was giving her. She felt her heart give a light flip when she saw the softness in his eyes. If he had noticed the light gasp Sakura gave or the slight blush on her cheeks he didn't speak it or show it. He gave her a slight nod before answering. "Thanks Sakura-san. And don't worry about what happened in the past, I've been through worse." He said before turning to Kakashi. Said sensei gave a nod for Naruto to continue which he did happily.
"Ok so, what I'm so exited about is the training Kakashi-sensei and I talked about last night. Essentially what we'll be doing is continuing on our chakra control and Sensei has agreed to teach us a few jutsu." At the mention of learning new jutsu, Sasuke perked up.
"Since we're near large bodies of water, I'll be teaching you Suiton jutsus and perhaps a few Doton as well." Kakashi added to Naruto's statement.
"What about Katon jutsus sensei?" Sakura asked.
"Ahh, about Katon jutsus well…" Kakashi paused while placing a hand under his chin, mimicking the look of contemplation for dramatics and smirked under his masked when Sakura leaned in anticipation. "For one, I'm too lazy to teach it to you." He chuckled at Sakura's face fault and continued. "And two, Sasuke knows a few of them so why don't you ask him?" At Sasuke's glare he simply gave his infamous U-turn eye smile.
"Oh right, Sasuke I've been meaning to ask, do you suppose I could learn Goukakyuu-no-jutsu?" Naruto asked as he looked at his team mate. Sasuke simply turned to leave. "I don't have time to teach you Do-"
"I'll teach you Kage-Bunshin in return." Naruto interrupted making Sasuke freeze. From Kakashi's view point, he could see Sasuke's eyes remain wide for a few seconds before closing while he actually pondered Naruto's proposition. 'Hmm, the Dobe actually has a good idea for once. If I had that technique, I could have an actual sparing partner. Also it could help when trying to escape those fangirls…' Suddenly, Sasuke whirls around reopening his eyes, his Sharingan eyes ablaze.
"Show me the seals." He demands simply while not averting his gave from his blond team mate. Naruto stands up, cerulean blue orbs starring at orbs of dark ruby red. He crossed his arms while closing his eyes. Sighing, he shakes his head. He opens them again giving Sasuke a look of boredom and slight disappointment. He mutters one word; just load enough for Sasuke to hear.
"No." He replied simply, ending the matter. This pissed the Uchiha survivor immensely, and it showed in his features. Even though Naruto's face was straight, anyone could have seen the mild amusement dancing his eyes. Sasuke come right up to him grabbing the scruff of his shirt. Naruto did nothing to stop him; he only gave a quick glance to Kakashi, to let him know that he should only interfere if absolutely necessary. Sasuke saw the glance but didn't care.
"Why the fuck not?!" He yelled as he lifted Naruto so that his feet were barely touching the floor. Not only Naruto show no fear, he didn't show any reaction at all, which only worked to aggravate the Uchiha even farther.
"You won't get an answer unless you calm down and put me back on the floor." Naruto stated with a calm yet serious face. Time seemed to slowly pass as the silence between the two team mates continued. Sakura was becoming very worried about both her team mates and wanted to do something, anything but felt useless and couldn't do a thing. Kakashi watched with a contemplative look knowing that even though he wished to intervene, he knew that Naruto would ask for his help at the right time.
After a time, Sasuke finally puts Naruto down, his eyes retuning to the dark pools of onyx they once were. Both Kakashi and Sakura gave inaudible sighs of relief knowing that Sasuke would be able to listen better if he wasn't pissed off to hell.
"Alright, the reason why I don't want you to just copy the move is that it may be useful to do so but, you'll only divide the power have now instead of getting stronger. If you just copy with your eyes, only they will get stronger, not yourself." He was about to continue when Sasuke interrupted.
"But I must have whatever power I can get so I can kill Him." Naruto gave a sigh, barely able to fathom how dense Sasuke could be.
"There are NO shortcuts to power Sasuke. Your hatred, your thirst for revenge is only holding you back from you could truly become." Again Naruto was about to continue when Sasuke cut in.
"But using my anger and hate is the only way for me to ki-." Sasuke was halted in mid-sentence by a resounding…
"I've had enough of this Bullshit!" Naruto practically bellowed at Sasuke. Said Uchiha boy had a large red mark on his cheek while the rest of his face contained the look of shock while he slowly turned back to Naruto. Everyone else in the room had flinched at the slap and were just as shocked if not more so than Sasuke. As soon as he recovered from his shock, Kakashi shook his head and gave a slightly sad look at his two male pupils. 'I always had a feeling something like this would happen.' He was brought out of his train of thought when Naruto continued, after calming down some.
"For a so-called genius prodigy, you're acting like a complete idiot. And people thought I was stupid." He said with a slight sarcastic sneer on his face. 'Ouch, that one's gotta hurt.' Both Kakashi and surprisingly Sakura thought at the same time.
"It was your brother who told you to live the way you did and do now correct?" At Sasuke's weak nod he continued. "I find it kind of funny and ironic don't you think? That you hate your brother with such a passion yet, you complied with what his wishes like a loyal dog!" Looking Sasuke right in the eyes, he watched as his words took affect.
Sasuke failed to stifle his gasp as his eyes widened, slowly shaking head in denial. "No…i-it can't…I-I didn't…" he stuttered out as he took a few steps back. All who watched gave the Uchiha child sad looks. Both Tsunami and Inari because this was the first time they've heard part of his past. Sakura for obvious reasons, and Kakashi because he knew both about what happened that night and the truth to Naruto's words. None of them would be prepared for what he did next. Sasuke's eyes, voice and aura did a complete 180.
"What the fuck would you know about it? Nothing! You don't got jack shit compared to what I've been through. Your just some lame, stupid orphan that –"
"THAT IS ENOUGH UCHIHA!" Naruto had had enough with his team mates whining and complaining. If anyone wasn't sure about how pissed Naruto was at this moment, the killer intent he was releasing would clear out any doubt. Sasuke again did a complete 180. Never before had he been this terrified before. Even the 'treatment' he suffered from Itachi's Tsukiyomi felt like a love tap compared to this. He couldn't even think. Sakura was staring, wide eyed with her butt on the floor at her blond team mate. 'What…what could he have gone through to make him this pissed?' She pondered, while her Inner Sakura provided no answers because for once, it was scared silent. Kakashi though wasn't scared at all. But he was extremely worried. 'Sensei must be looking down at the village in distain. But what worries me the most is the not fact that I don't sense any trace of IT around Naruto, it's that, all the killer intent…it's all him. Well, hopefully this could prove to be a good stress reliever for him.' He ended his thought so that he could hear what Naruto had to say.
"You think YOU had it bad Uchiha? YOU'RE not the one who's had to live at an orphanage till you were the age of FOUR, where you were treated like a MISTAKE, an ABOMINATION! YOU'RE not the one who had to live in a run down apartment since you were THROWN out of the orphanage like a piece of useless garbage. YOU'RE not the one who had to go through ice cold glares and words of hatred every time you WALK THE DAMN STREET! YOU'RE not the one who was BEATEN BLOODY by the villagers like it was a FUCKING SPORT! YOU'RE not the one who had to hide from everyone on your own BIRTHDAY! YOU'RE not the one who was purposely held back in the academy by those ASSHOLES they call themselves teachers. You're not... (Sigh) Iie, even after all that, that's just the tip of the ice cap of the crap of all I went through. Let me put to perspective. Where you had to relive whatever your own brother put you through, which only lasted a second or two, I had to endure this and more for almost a DECADE! Though, it's because of this and more that I'm envious of you." At Sasuke's confused quirk of the head, he continued. "You've got or had everything I've ever wished for. You had a family for the first few years of your life Sasuke. A mother to love you, a father to be taught by, clansmen to make sure you felt accepted and loved. Me, I was told my mother died at birth, don't know jack shit about my father, same for family or clansmen. Now, you've got people smiling at you while I get glares, you get acknowledged for doing nothing yet I'm mostly ignored no matter how hard I work. You're loved, while I'm hated.
The only thing that I'm not envious of you for is how I chose to live. You chose to live alone where anyone in the whole village would love to bring you into their family without any second thoughts, and you're always brooding and thinking pessimistically. Me, I didn't chose to live alone, I was forced to. Those people of the village would no sooner touch me with a ten foot pole then let me live in their home while I keep trying to think as optimistic as I can. The only people that are exceptions can't take me in because they lack time or funds." He gave a small sigh then continued. "Then again, I got used to living alone 5-7 months after being kicked out of that Kami-forsaken orphanage. I had only just recently turned four years of age before they did so." By now both Sasuke's and Sakura's eyes were looking at him with eye's as wide as they could go. Kakashi was feeling only two main emotions at this moment, sadness with a mix of regret over how Naruto had lived and immense distaste and anger towards the villagers what they had put the poor boy through. Tsunami was looking appalled while holding a wide-eyed Inari close. She could not believe how such a child could go through such…hell, for lack of a better word. If Naruto noticed their reactions, he didn't show it. After a short breather, he continued.
"The only reason I survived was thanks to Sandaime-oji-san. He was the one who got me my apartment, and who gave me the funds for food. Though if I try to get anything other than those instant Ramen cups, I can only get food that's outdated, rotted and terribly over priced. It's been going like this till I became a genin where I could pay for myself with the funds from missions."
'How could anyone live through that?' was the thoughts of all who were there, except Sasuke. He was thinking more along the lines of 'He's…gone through something worse than…me.' Then a sudden thought hit Sakura. 'Wait a sec, what about a caretaker?' She then voiced her thoughts out loud.
"Hold on Naruto, didn't you have like, a caretaker or a guardian to look after you?" The answer she received was something no one expected to come from the blond. He chuckled. But all took note of the immense sadness withheld behind it and were shocked to see an actual tear drop down the left side of his face.
"Guardian, huh? I haven't had another person look after me since the 16th one tried to kill me!" This came as the most shocking part of his past anyone in the room had ever heard. Both Sakura and Sasuke were so shocked by such news they couldn't think. The same went for Inari. Tsunami and Kakashi though, had different thoughts. Tsunami was wondering horrified about why some people would try to take the life of such an innocent boy. Kakashi was thinking more along the lines of 'As soon as I report this to Hokage-sama, I'll find out who exactly those people are, and send them straight to a private…session with both Ibiki and Anko.' Oblivious to any of their thoughts, Naruto gave a sigh then shook his head.
"I know, I know. But it's in the past so don't worry about it. There was one though that wasn't as bad as the rest. She was the only person out of all of those…other caretakers that actually showed me kindness and who actually stood up and protected me when the villagers got…out of hand. I was only 5 or 6 at the time. Even though I can't recall her face or her name, or petty much anything else about her for the life of me, I can remember every thing we did together." He let out a small content sigh as his eyes glazed over; reminiscing of what once was, before he continued.
"We did lots of things together like going to the park. Even when the parents would take their kids away, she always stayed with me. It was one of the only times I was truly happy." He gave a dejected sigh before he moved on. "But I learned very harshly that all good things end at some point, or in my case, they don't last long and are taken away very quickly.
It was my birthday that day so I was either turning 6 or 7. I was just being tucked away into bed that night with the night cap and pyjamas she gave and her words ringing in my mind, 'Happy Birthday Naruto, hope you have a wonderful sleep. I'll see you tomorrow.' She had said. She then gave me hug and a small kiss on the top of my forehead. No sooner had she done that, we both heard the door crash open and could hear yells like 'It's finally time!' or 'should of killed it off earlier but now's our chance!' and the like. Even before hearing the words of the intruders, she had picked me up and rushed towards the window, trying to open it up. Before she got it opened it she suddenly ducked. I could hear over the villagers yells the tell-tale sound of something 'thunking' into wood. When I looked over her shoulder I saw a large amount of knives imbedded into the wood around the window. The villagers were very close now and she did the only thing she could at that moment." He gave a small pause to collect himself some before he continued. He had never talked about this before, not to anyone, even to Iruka-sensei, so that made it all the harder for him.
Kakashi could tell right from the beginning that this was a very bad memory for his blond student, so he let him speak at his own pace to get everything straight. This was one of those times where he wished his other team mate hadn't left. He wanted to console Naruto but it just wouldn't feel right to Kakashi even if he tried. Sakura was surprisingly being held by Sasuke as she let her tears fall. Tsunami was holding a crying Inari the whole time so neither of the women there could console Naruto even if they wished to. Kakashi was brought out of his thoughts when Naruto started to continue on.
"She…u-used her o-own body to…pr-protect m-me from the be-beatings that t- the villagers were d-dishing out. N-no ma-matter what they d-did, she just wouldn't let g-go of me. I could feel her flinch e-every time she was hit. I don't know who long it was b-before Sandaime-oji-san came with s-some ANBU but I was very t-thankful when they took care of that mob." He sniffed. "By the time the villagers were dispersed and the med-nin came it…it was too late for her. Her back was covered in gashes and cuts. Even a few shuriken and senbon needles were sticking out of her back with blood slowing oozing out of her wounds and mouth as she coughed." By now Naruto had a small stream of tears flowing down his cheeks, but he did nothing to halt its flow.
"Before oji-san took me out of my apartment, she…she wanted to say a few last words to me. She…she told m-me to be strong t-to…n-n-never give u-up. To never l-let them bring m-me down." He gave a small pause as he sniffled a few more times. "I've been staying t-true to her words even to this d-day. She gave me one last kiss on the forehead and said g-goodbye before oji-san took me away from the apartment. It was the last time I ever saw her again. That night I had stayed at oji-san's estate but I only stayed there for that one night. In the morning, that's when I made the promise to both myself and her that I would never let anyone see my true feelings, to never let the villagers see how much they hurt me. That was the start of my faux idiocy façade and, heh, it worked like a charm." He wiped the tears on the sleeve of his shirt. No one had ever seen him like this before.
Everyone in the room was looking at the blond with sad looks. Both Sakura (who was now detached from Sasuke) and Tsunami were wiping away fresh tears only to repeat it over and over again. Inari had just stayed silent as he listened, clinging to his mothers leg, his tears nearly gone. Kakashi had, surprisingly, a single tear roll down his cheek from his visible eye, before he quickly wiped it away. Sasuke was looking at Naruto with a look of new found respect, at both the words before this outburst and at what he just heard. Naruto knew what it was like to have that kind of pain, and reluctantly on his part, acknowledged that Naruto was stronger than he was, in the initial sense that he last longer than Sasuke in his torment and was able to last as long as he did without being driven insane.
They were all jogged out of their separate thoughts when Naruto suddenly spoke. "Gomen ne, about all that it's just…I haven't really thought about her since it happened and well…oh nevermind, just forget it. Sasuke…" When the Uchiha heard his name he looked at the blond in the eye before Naruto continued. "I will still teach you the Kage-Bunshin-no-jutsu, it's just you'll have to learn it my way, just like I'll learn Goukakyuu-no-jutsu in whichever manner you think is best. Fair exchange, one jutsu for another. But, we won't be getting to any of that till after lunch. I just…I just need to be alone for a bit. I'll be back in a few hours just…don't come for me. I'll be back for lunch, I promise you that." Seeing both Tsunami and Kakashi nod in approval, he made his way to the door. He stopped dead at his team mate's next question.
"Just one last thing Naruto, you may have told us what happened but, you never said why?" Sakura asked with clear confusion and worry hidden behind her words. When Naruto did absolutely nothing, not a budge nor sound, she started to fret a bit. When he finally spoke, his words were barely a whisper, but somehow were calm and didn't waver.
"Right now just…it isn't the right time. I will tell you what's going on but…just give me some time alright?" Not even waiting for a reply, he left silently out the door, before bolting to the forest as fast as his feet could carry him.
Back at Tazuna's
The room was silent until Tsunami quietly told Inari to go and do something to keep him busy. He nodded and left while Tsunami went back to preparing breakfast, which would actually be lunch because of Naruto's words. She found it sad and infuriating that such injustice could be put on such an innocent boy's life. She continued her thoughts, not paying attention to the blonde's team mates and sensei as she cooked.
Sakura was again confused and worried for who knows how many times today. Had she asked something wrong? What would be so bad that would get such a reaction form her blonde team mate? Not being able to take the silence any longer, she broke it.
"Kakashi-sensei? What could be so…so dreadful that Naruto would be treated like that for his whole life?" she inquired while both she and Sasuke turned to look at their sensei. Kakashi was a bit nervous, though he never showed it, wondering how he should explain this, if at all.
"It really isn't my place to say. The only one who can properly tell you the truth about Naruto would be Naruto himself. Now with that talk about training, I was planning on teaching you a new Chakra control exercise. But I will be testing you to see how far you've mastered the tree climbing exercise."
"How so?" Sasuke spoke for once since Naruto's 'Sasuke-bashing' moment. He was just given an incredible eye-opener (Author: Finally, I knew someone was going to beat the stupid out of him and put some common sense in.) and he wanted to think on it. But, with the talk of training, he shoved those thoughts to the back of his mind for now.
"Well, that is a good question Sasuke. I will simply time you."
"What do you mean exactly Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura asked with a quizitive turn of the head.
"What I mean is exactly what I just said. I will be timing you on how long the two of you will last before moving on." Kakashi replied.
"Hold on, what did you mean by the two of us? What about the do- I mean Naruto?" Sasuke inquired, curious as too why their third team mate was left out. Kakashi gave a small smile, which was hidden by the mask, at Sasuke's attempts to try and make-up for past wrongs.
"Well, I guess I should include Naruto. Even thought he told me that he trained the whole time he was gone last night, it would be fair to test him as well." Kakashi answered while scratching the side of his mask with a finger.
"How long did he say he lasted?" Sakura asked, interested about their team mate's progress.
"I believe he told me that he lasted about 3-4 hours, upside-down while pondering about his life." He said while finishing off with his trademark U-eye smile.
"Naruto may be a stamina freak and have a ton of chakra I'll give him that but, I doubt he could have improved that much in such a short time." Sakura replied while crossing her arms. ("Che, of course that idiot couldn't get that good so fast! I'll send him to hell for that lie! SHANNARO!"(Spl)) Inner Sakura raged within the kunoichi's mind, while again Sakura ignored the rant.
"You'd be surprised Sakura. Naruto doesn't have the title of 'Konoha's #1 most surprising shinobi' for nothing. Well enough about that, I'll be out for a little while before lunch. You two find something for yourselves to do in the meantime alright?" With that said he took out his Icha Icha Paradise and went out the door. Sakura just stared at the door before shaking her head, and started to wonder what was going on with their blond team mate.
Said blonde was currently running for his life down the main road in the city, cutting through alleyways and other streets while being chased by a large horde of girls. It seems that he's got his own fan club now. 'How did it come to this?' he asked mentally. He started to remember what happened after he left Tazuna's home.
As soon as Naruto left Tazuna's house he went to the forest to try and distract his mind from the reopened mental wounds and memories with a bit of training. It always helped him before, back in Konoha when he felt he either needed to vent or to just forget the situation. He was thinking to himself as he ran. 'Dear Kami…why the Hell did I tell them that? Kuso, it was all meant to stay secret until later. It was even the first time I brought up Onee-san. Oh well what's done has been done. Oh helllooo…' He stopped running when he came to a small clearing, which held a small river running through it. He closed his eyes to get a better feel for his surroundings. His ears could pick up the faint sound of the wind rustling in the trees, blowing through the long grass, the call of birds chirping and singing their songs and the water flowing down the small river. In short, this place was perfect. With his eyes still firmly shut, he took in all the sounds and scents around him. When he opened them, he formed his favourite seal and summoned 10 clones. And without any sort of command, they started a total taijutsu-only free-for-all, never noticing the pair of girls that were slowly closing in to his location.
The two said girls had gone into the forest that day to pick herbs to help with the family. As they moved deeper into the forest, they began to hear the faint sounds of fighting in the distance.
"Huh, I wonder what that could be. Let's go check it out." Girl #1 said as she rose from the patch of ground that she was picking herbs from. Her friend stopped looking through the bush she was at, stood up, brushed her blouse a bit, picked up her herb basket and walked to Girl #1.
"Well I do suppose we have some time. Why not? Let's go." She replied and they then immediately set out for the source of the noise. As they walked through the forest they remained silent, intent on using their hearing to guide them. The sounds of whatever was brawling upwind of them were steadily getting louder as they continued to walk. After about 2 minutes of walking, they were able to hear the distinct sound of water flowing in a stream or river.
The only reason why they were able to get as close to the clearing as fast as they did was because it was one of those rare days in Wave where the mist actually cleared up for a few hours. It only happens once every few months so the girls were grateful that it happened today. It took only about another minute for them to reach the clearing. Once they saw what was, or more appropriately who was in the clearing, they both gave a small gasp and then both dived into some nearby bushes for cover. Luckily for them, the person in the clearing didn't notice them, for he was too preoccupied with his free-for-all to notice anything else. As they peered through the bushes to get a better look at the one in the clearing, they couldn't help but release a small squeal or a few giggles.
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! I can't believe it's him, it's really him! And look at the change in his wardrobe, like he looked cute with that jumpsuit, even if it was a slight eyesore, but now he's just…just." Girl #2 said before giving another squeal.
"I know what you mean girl, I know what you mean. He looked hot before and now, I just don't know what to say. Oh, just look at the muscles on his arms, or the way his hair spikes like that. 'Sigh' I wonder if he has a girlfriend or if he would consider…" Girl #1 trailed off while blushing at the though of being the girlfriend of the guy in the clearing. Girl #2 wasn't looking too different from girl #1, with a blush rivalling her friends.
Oblivious to the girls in the bushes at the edge of the clearing, Naruto continued with his free-for-all. Accessing the situation, he immediately back-flipped out of the group of clones to give himself some room. As soon as he foot touched the ground, he charged forward, launching a roundhouse kick on the head of an unlucky clone, taking it out in a puff of smoke. He used the momentum to flip himself into a handstand where he spun like a top, using his legs to take out 3 more clones as they attempted to attack him. Keyword attempted.
Continuing on, he flipped onto the ground then swiped his leg out, tripping 4 clones as they were rushing him. Twisting his body, he dropkicked one clone one the neck, making it poof away. Then quickly grabbed another by the leg, spun the clone around and threw 'him' at one of the other clones that had just gotten up from the ground, only puff into smoke at the impact. He then jumped back a bit and went into a defensive stance. When the last clone on the ground got up, 'he' rushed Naruto. When 'he' was close enough he ducked down, trying to trip him. When the clone got up, it quickly realized that the real Naruto was behind 'him'. The clone was about to turn around but wasn't fast enough. Naruto grabbed the clone by its wrist, brought his leg forward and tripped 'him'. As the clone fell forward, Naruto place his free hand on the clone's shoulder blade, following the clone as it fell, using his own body weight to force the clone down. Before the clone hit the ground, Naruto pulled on the clone's arm as he pushed on the clone's shoulder blade. He soon heard a puff of smoke as he touched the ground. Had it been an actual person, said person would now have a dislocated shoulder.
Now only two were left. Naruto quickly ducked as one of the clones flew overhead, attempting to deliver a roundhouse to his head. As soon as the clone past, he grabbed the clone by the ankle, spun himself and the clone around like a top then slammed it into the ground, the clone disappearing in a puff of smoke. And then there was one. The last clone watched with an impassive face as the smoke cleared revealing the real Naruto standing in the middle of the clearing casually looking right back at the clone. He just stood there, staring at his clone, waiting for the clone to attack, and he didn't have to wait long. Losing its patience, the last clone rushed towards Naruto, zigzagging back and forth, focusing chakra to its legs for an added boost of speed. When it was close enough, it launched itself at Naruto, cocking its fist back, preparing to punch the original. Naruto waited till the last second to duck, where he then manoeuvred though the clone's guard, snaking his one arm behind the clone then ramming his elbow into the back of its neck, while thrusting his knee into the clone's stomach. The clone soon disappeared with a poof of smoke.
The girls in the bushes were watching with both fascination and awe at the blonds skills. Even though most of his movements were slight blurs, they saw not only power and speed in his attacks, but most of all efficiency in how he took out the clones and a deadly grace in the way he moved. They continued to watch him as he walks over to the stream, taking of his shirt. The girls eyes widened and they started to drool slightly at the look at Naruto's now bare upper body. He wasn't ripped mind you, but he was very fit, and the slight bronze coloring of his skin made him all the more appealing to the girl's eyes.
As Naruto kneeled by the river to take a quick drink, he heard the faint sound of giggling in the air, while the hairs on the back of his neck started to stand on end. He soon turned to the source of the sound, seeing nothing he decided it was nothing but the wind. He soon got up and went to get his shirt but faltered in his steps as he heard another set of giggles, only louder this time. Now he knew it wasn't the wind playing tricks on him, so he quickly grabbed his shirt, put it on and then turned to the source of the noise.
When he saw two girls come out of the bushes he was about the silently sigh in relief but stopped when he noticed the look in their eyes. He recognized the look but couldn't seem to reca- Then it hit him. It was the same look that Sakura gave Sasuke whenever he was in her sights. He took a step back as they approached him. He had no clue how to deal with this situation, dealing with looks of hatred was easy for him, he had years of experience. But these looks, nothing would come to him on what to do. But once he heard them say words like "Oh Naruto-kun…" and the like, he did the only thing his instincts told him too…he booked out of the clearing like the Kyuubi itself was after him, with the girls' quickly giving chase.
Unfortunately; or fortunately based on the person perspective, for Naruto, he didn't know anything about the layout of the forest while the girls knew the forest like the back of their hands. Had he not been in this sort of situation, he would have taken note that both girls, while still civilians, were quite athletic for they were keeping up with him. So as he ran, he turned back and forth at times, trying to loose them, with no apparent luck. The area currently being mistless at the moment didn't help either. Also, unknowingly to Naruto he was heading straight towards the city. But when he did noticed that his surroundings where near the city, he began to plan how he would lose them, like weaving through the city. His plan could have worked too, hadn't he jinxed himself with the thought 'Well, at least it's only two of them.' Because of this, it was as if by some cruel twist of divine intervention that the city was bursting with girls' ages from 13 to 18, though Naruto didn't know that.
The city in question was quite busy since most wanted to come out because of the good weather. The girls aforementioned were going to and fro, going about their business. Those closest to the nearby forest could hear something coming towards them, and coming fast. Far down the road into the forest, they saw something pop out through the trees, turn and start to run straight for the city, a small cloud of dust billowing behind it. When some of them could see what was actually coming towards them, they could see a guy with a black shirt, orange pants and blond hair running like no tomorrow. Some murmurs started to go through the crowds. Some like "who's that?" and "Don't see to many blondes around here." And so on.
It didn't take long for some to start realizing who it was, and when they did, hearts flipped, eyes turned into hearts, light squeals flew, etc. While their murmurs turned from those of confusion to those of surprise, like "No it can't be, is that…" or It's him, it's him!" or "Naruto's coming, he's coming." Meaningless to say, they were starting to get exited. Also, they came to realize that he was being chased by two girls. Not wanting to let those…other girls get the Hero of Wave, as he is known, so; getting 'the thrill of the hunt' as they say, they joined in the chase as he zoomed by. We now return to our present situation
'Why me? Did I do something in a past life to deserve this?' Naruto thought as he continued to run for his life, with the occasional jump, duck and every other evasion manoeuvre he knew to not get caught by his newly formed fanclub. 'Now I know how Sasuke-tem – Sasuke feels like.' He mused as he flung out a few shuriken to cut the net that was thrown at him. 'Boy, must they be desperate.'
A short ways away from Naruto's current location and situation, Hatake Kakashi was lazily walking down another road while reading his Icha Icha Paradise. Suddenly, he gets an odd feeling. If it was either the danger sense one develops after years of shinobi conflict, or just plain paranoia, he didn't know. All he did know was that something in the back of his mind was telling him to take a few steps back quickly. He takes 3 steps back, and not a moment to soon for a screaming Naruto whizzed by, followed shortly by a group of girls. A large group of screaming, squealing girls; and a few young women, all screaming his students name along with phrases like "Hello handsome." or "Be my boyfriend!" which would shortly be followed by a chorus of "No Me!" 's.
As soon as they all passed by; a brisk silence followed. The silence was broken a short while after by the sound of a page being flipped, courtesy of one Hatake Kakashi. A small perverted giggle was soon followed, which was accompanied by the sound of footsteps as Kakashi started his walk once again.
'Hmm, seems Naruto's getting a good deal of exercise today.' Kakashi thought as he walked back towards Tazuna's home, for it was nearly time for lunch. Unbeknownst to him, the Author gave a facefault for writing that thought.
Back at Tazuna's home, the other 2 members of team 7 were mulling over their blonde haired team mate's words, Sasuke more so than Sakura. Said Uchiha was currently in his guest room laying on his futon, with a leg propped up and his hands supporting his head, while starring at the ceiling. The words of his team mate continuing to play over and over again in his mind.
'You hate your brother with such a passion yet, you complied with his wishes like a loyal dog!' The dark haired boy's brows furrowed as he concentrated to banish the words from his mind, or at least ignore them, but to no avail.
It soon came to mind that Naruto hadn't explained exactly why his life was as bad as he said it was. At first he believed that it was some sort of prank he pulled on the village to get that pissed off at him, but soon dismissed the idea when he remembered that Naruto hadn't pulled any pranks till a year or two in the academy. He began to recall the glares his team mate would receive when they either walked to get a new mission or that one time they all left together for lunch after training.
'Damn it Naruto, what could have happened to make them hate you that much?' (Somewhere in the city behind a dumpster, Naruto sneezed, alerting all the girls nearby of his position which started the chase once again.) Sasuke had been so deep in thought that he jumped slightly when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He calmed down quickly when he realized that it was only Sakura.
"It's only me Sasuke-kun. Are you alright? You looked like you were troubled." Sakura asked with light worry.
"Yeah I was. I was thinking about what Naruto said." Sasuke replied while lying back down. Sakura gave a slight 'oh' before sitting beside next to him, bringing her knees up to her chest, hugging them tight as she laid her chin on them, giving out a small sigh.
"I know what you mean. What he said…it's like some nightmare that never ends. And he never told any of us, always keeping on that smile of his, even after all the words and beatings I gave him, he'd just shrug it off and say it's nothing." She paused to wipe away a stray tear. "Did you also see the look in his eyes yesterday? It was as if… as if I got a small glimpse of what he was feeling. They just looked so hurt so pained." She turned to see how he would respond. Sasuke sat up while propping up one leg, putting his elbow on it and using his other are to hold himself up. He turned away slightly and sighed, shaking his head before answering.
"Not really. What do you think it means?" He replied. A thought suddenly came to Sakura. "Hey, do you know what they remind me of?" At the sudden question Sasuke thought for a bit. Finding no answer he shook his head. At that she continued.
"His eyes…they sort of remind me of the ocean, you know from books and all. Being incredibly deep and holding so many secrets within its depths. Also, they remind me slightly like the eyes from our elders, like Hokage-sama. Filled with wisdom and knowing knowledge that we don't. I just wonder what else he hides, who he really is. He's not the dead last from the academy that we knew. Just who is he?" She said finishing off aiming the last question more to herself than anything.
"Hmm, now that you mention it, they do." Sasuke said in a low whisper. He mulled over the new info he got from her words. 'Just another piece to the jig-saw.' Sakura then remembered why she came up in the first place.
"Oh right, Sasuke-kun, Tsunami-san said to come down to lunch." She said while getting up then walking to the door. She stopped and waited for her team mate. As Sasuke got up Sakura opened the door and followed him as he walked past and into the hall. Neither talked as they made their way to the kitchen.
Upon arriving, they were greeted by the sight of Naruto sitting at the table, looking as if he had just ran for his life all morning. They didn't know how right they were. When Naruto saw them, he looked at Sasuke, gave a small smile and a nod, totally confusing his team mates. He then stood up, tiredly, and made his way over. Before he could say anything however, Sakura asked what was on their minds.
"What in the world happened to you Naruto? Daijobu?" Her worry turned to confusion when said team mate gave a weak chuckle.
"Let me just put it this way, and Sasuke, you'll understand completely." At this Sasuke raised an eyebrow but stayed silent.
"Just so you know, I have a bit of a newfound respect for how you deal with large crowds of fangirls you got back home. Surprisingly enough though, don't you think that being chased around like that gives you good exercise?" He suppressed a chuckle, with a great deal of effort, when Sasuke did a face fault. Sakura on the other hand, couldn't help but giggle at the scene. Even Kakashi, who had just came in the door and made his way to the table when Naruto gave his answer, couldn't hold back a chuckle. Upon hearing the chuckle, Naruto turned to see Kakashi sitting at the table, book in his hands. He couldn't help but be a little surprised.
"Kakashi-sensei, you're… you're actually on time for once!" At the exclamation, both Sakura and Sasuke turned to see Naruto gaping at, yes what he said was true, an on time Kakashi and copied Naruto's expression. Kakashi, upon looking at his students, gave a sheepish shrug.
"Why wouldn't I be? It is basically lunch time." Sakura nodded, accepting their sensei's answer for now and took a seat away from said sensei. Sasuke just gave an 'hn' and made his way to the table, sitting across from Sakura and beside Kakashi. Naruto however, looked at Kakashi with a scrutinizing gaze. Kakashi just stared back, albeit lazily. Naruto then gave a sigh and mumbled a few words. Kakashi, upon hearing his student's whispered words, face faulted right into the table at which he sat. When Naruto sat down, his pink haired team mate came up beside him and whispered in his ear.
"What did you say that would make Kakashi-sensei react like that?" She asked in pure curiosity. Naruto gave another sigh, and then whispered back.
"All I said was 'I guess miracles can happen." A sweatdrop formed on the back of Sakura's head when she heard his answer. Kakashi soon recovered and placed his 'novel', which he miraculously saved from the punishment of the face fault, back in its usual place. He then turned his attention to the surprisingly silent blonde.
"Maa, maa, Naruto. Don't you think you might have went a little overboard with that?" He asked.
"Seriously sensei, with you being chronically late for most meetings, if not everything, for 3 hours for the entire time we've know you, we got used to it. And now suddenly you turn up for something on time and without a lame excuse as well, how do you think we're going to react like?" Naruto replied sarcastically. A small silence followed, which was soon broken by the sound of Kakashi's muffled cough. He the brought to attention what was, presumably on every bodies minds.
"I'm a little curious Naruto. Exactly how did you escape this morning?" Both Sakura and surprisingly Sasuke tuned in for listen.
"Well, once I was able to get my wits together, I just used a mixture of Kage-bunshin, which I used to create confusion and as a distraction; a Kawarimi (spl?) to replace myself with a piece of trash deep in an alleyway, and lastly a Henge to change myself into a normal civilian to pass them by without being glomped over by 'over-hormonal-hyperactive-banshees." As soon as the words left his mouth, he felt a wave of complete dread wash over him. Sweating bullets, he slowly turned to the source of the killer intent. Obviously it was Sakura emanating it. Thinking quickly he save his hide from being demolished by a pissed off team mate.
"Ho-hold on Sa-sakura-s-san! I-I didn't m-mean it towards y-you, I- swear ho-onest!" But his pleas to stay her wrath was all for nought. He saw the fist coming in, so he did the thing he could think of. He quickly performed a Kawarimi and replaced himself with… WHAM! Through the smoke a figure into the wall. When the smoke finally cleared, Sakura was looking to see how much damage she did to…she gave a gasp as she saw the figure slumped, upside down on the wall.
'H…how? But I…I thought he…' her mind continued on this track as she stared at one Hatake Kakashi who was getting up from the wall. Sasuke stared blankly at his sensei, and then moved his gaze to Naruto who was sitting where said sensei once sat, then back to aforementioned sensei, who was now sitting beside Sakura, with only one thought going through his mind. 'Using a Kawarimi on another person and on sensei no-less…what have you been holding out on us with?' Naruto looked at Kakashi with a sheepish look.
"Gomen ne, sensei. It was the spur of the moment. No hard feelings right?" he gave a small nervous laugh as he awaited his sensei's 'judgement'.
"No worries Naruto. Just be sure to warn me next time when you decide to do that." Kakashi replied while giving an afterthought. 'Yup he definitely lives up to the name 'Konoha's #1 most surprising ninja'.' He was brought out of his thoughts when Tsunami, who had been oblivious to the entire event while cooking, brought lunch to the table. Inari soon came from the stairs and joined his mother and guests at the table.
Lunch was a silent affair, except for when someone asked for more, of which Tsunami would happily oblige.
Once done, the group of four headed to the forest. They didn't jump from branch to branch, nor did they speed past the trees. They simply walked casually, taking in their surroundings. Soon enough, they arrived in the same area they had trained the first time. Seeing all the scratch marks on the trees, Kakashi thought about how hard his team has worked to get where they're at now. Quickly remembering their purpose for being here, he mentally shook himself and addressed his team.
"Now as I said before to you, Sakura and Sasuke, I will be testing you to see if you can advance to the next exorcise. Also to make this fair to all three of you, you Naruto will be tested as well." The outburst they expected never came. All that did come was a quick 'Hai' and a nod of the head then nothing more as he awaited his sensei's instructions. Mentally shaking themselves out of their shock at their blonde team mate's attitude, again, Kakashi addressed them once again.
"Alright, back on track, the test is simple. All you have to do is climb to a spot on a tree of your choosing, within the immediate area, 'stick' to that particular sport and stay there for as long as you can." Kakashi then took out a small scroll and a kunai. Naruto recognized the scroll right away, but stayed silent. Using the kunai to make a cut on his thumb, he quickly unrolled the scroll, streaking a trail of blood along the length of the scroll. After putting away the kunai, he then commenced the 'scroll twirling' sequence, as he had done when fighting Zabuza on the bridge.
'Wow, who knew Kakashi-sensei could twirl a scroll so gracefully like that?' Sakura thought, admiring their sensei's movement.
'…' Was all Sasuke thought at the moment.
'…Well I hope I won't have to learn that when he teaches me this move.' Naruto thought with a small sweatdrop behind his head.
Kakashi then quickly rolled the scroll up, followed by a series of seals with the scroll between his hands. Then with a small cry of 'Doton: Tsuiga-no-jutsu' he rammed the scroll into the ground. A mixture of rings and lines of kanji spread out for the point where the scroll touched the ground, followed by a large puff of smoke. Once the smoke cleared, the three genins could see their sensei with a dog on either side of him.
The first nin-ken, which was the smaller of the two, was a pug, coming up to just below Kakashi's mid-shin. Its fur was short, light brownish colour while the lower part of its face was a darker shade of brown. Its eyes were black and had a bit of a lazy look to them. The dog summon had a Konoha hitai-ate tied around its head, with its ears coming out of two make-shift holes. Also, a blue jacket was on its back, unzipped, which had a strange symbol on the back, which coincidentally, looked like a face. The last distinguishing trait it had a strip of bandage wrappings wrapped on its right-front foreleg.
The second nin-ken was much larger, coming up to just below Kakashi's waist. Its body was covered from hear to tail in medium length, pitch black fur. It looked to be more wolf than dog, due to not only the amount of fur covering its body, or its pointed ears that would twitch every now and then at a new sound but the fact that its muzzle looked longer than that of an ordinary dog, summon or otherwise. Its eyes were dark grey that held a sharp calculated look, but above all else, held intelligence. It too had a jacket on its back, which matched that of its smaller companion in every way, if not for its size. Unlike the other nin-ken though, this summon had its hitai-ate strapped around its neck and was shifted to the left somewhat.
"Now, I'd like to introduce you to Pakkun…" he idly pointed to his right at the shorter of the two nin-kens, "…and Kurokiba." He then pointed to his left at the larger of the two canines before continuing on.
"These two will be helping me time how long you hold out. Pakkun…"At this the said summon replied with a partly deep and gruff 'Hai?'
"I want you to watch over Sasuke. He's the one with the darkest hair." Pakkun nodded and walked up to Sasuke, sniffed his scent and then sat beside him.
"Now Kurokiba, I'd like for you to watch over Sakura, she's the only girl ou-"
"I refuse." came the surprisingly feminine reply. Looking at the shocked faces of those around her, she gave a small snort, walked up to Naruto, where the two stare at each other for a short time. It was soon broken however, when Kurokiba sniffed his scent and sat beside him.
Kakashi, seeing this, sighed. The refusal was the one of the largest surprises he's received yet. Usually she was the most loyal of his nin-ken, besides Pakkun respectively. With the way how she had acted around Naruto, he gave a mental to himself to see if she might become Naruto's personal canine summon, once he signed the contract of course. He pushed these thoughts from his mind for now before he spoke.
"Alright then, with that aside, I want you three to choose a tree within the area and begin to climb it once I say start. Just remember to stay in your chosen spot on the tree for as long as you can. Once that is completed, I will then see, based on your performance, whether or not you will advance to the next exorcise or stay with the tree climbing exercise until I deem you ready to advance. Now, are there any questions?" He finished of while looking at each of his students in their eyes, to see what they felt at the moment.
In Sakura, he found nervousness and doubt, yet there was a shimmer of determination behind her doubt. 'Hmm, probably thinks she won't do so well as her team mates, also that she hasn't improved much. Well this test will show all of us, but mostly to herself how far she has come.' Finishing of that thought, he moved on.
In Sasuke he saw indifference, slight boredom, determination and enough confidence to border on arrogance. 'He probably just wants to get to the powerful techniques so he can kill his brother, and that this test is only a small obstacle and is under him, hence the boredom and arrogance. Ok moving on'
In Naruto though, he had a tiny bit of difficulty at first. It might have only been minor but, for someone as young as Naruto to give him trouble when trying to read said boys emotions, it was another surprise for him. Looking a little deeper, past the near emotionless mask the boy was wearing, he could see confidence, not as much as the aforementioned Uchiha but seemed to be right level of confidence someone should have. And of course he found Naruto's fiery determination that he always had in abundance. 'His level of confidence is rare. He knows what would happen if there was too much of it. And then there's that determination of his. I swear it's far more limitless than his stamina.' He gave a small, soft chuckle that only his nin-ken heard, before he continued.
"Right then, I'll count down from three then you'll start. By the way, have you chosen a tree?" Receiving a chorus of 'Hai's, he nodded and raised his arm into the air.
"San…" The three stooges…I mean students al turned and faced their chosen tree.
"Ni…" They hunched over, preparing to speed towards their targets.
"Ich…" The nin-ken watched impassively as their summoner's pupils prepared for their test.
"HAJIME!" Yelled Kakashi, bringing his hand down. Both Sakura and Sasuke sprinted to their targets while Naruto simply leaped to his tree, bounding up from branch to branch till he landed on a rather think one. Using chakra to stick to the branch, he swung himself to the underside of the branch, where he sat upside down in a meditation stance.
Kakashi looked on as two of his students stood on the side of their tree while the third actually sat upside down on his.
'Hmm, they made good time getting to their 'sticking' spots. Though Naruto probably made the best choice by simply leaping to his tree. No matter, now comes both a pain and the real test. The wait.' Kakashi mulled over in his mind as he brought out his Icha Icha Paradise and walked to a nearby tree, earning a small sweatdrop from both of his nin-ken… and from that of a figure that hid itself a distance away. Not far enough since Kakashi, while reading his book and keeping track of time, had notice the presence for some time.
'I wonder…what is he up to?' He mentally shrugged as he continued to read, wait and watch as the test progressed.
The first hour of the test was very anti-climatic. Other than the sounds of nature, or that of the occasional page flip or light perverted giggle courtesy of the silver-haired jounin, nothing transpired within the small clearing. While taking a quick break from his…ahem novel, Kakashi observed his students.
'Hmm, Sakura is doing quite well. No doubt because of her so-called 'near perfect' chakra control. She's brought her reserves up, which is good but I believe it will only last about another…half hour. 45 if she strains her focus.' He then turned his attention to his raven haired student.
'He might not have the same level of chakra control as his female team mates but makes up for it with his larger reserves. He too has raised his reserves by about ¼ of what they were before. With his current progress I'd say he'll last about another…hour most likely. Hour 15 tops if, like Sakura, strains his concentration.' Turning his gaze away from Sasuke, he finally rested his one eye on his most surprising, blonde haired pupil.
'Naruto, so far, he's shown the most amount of progress from what I've observed or lack-there-of. I'd say his control would be right around Sasuke's current level, or just a tiny bit higher. Add to that his extremely large chakra reserves, his stamina and that determination of his and you get a possible Shinobi legend in the making. Putting that into account, I'd say that it would be pretty believable for him to last 3-4 hours like that. He'll most likely repeat last night's performance today. Well, won't know till it happens so…' He paused his thoughts as he looked at his watch.
'Hmm, it's been 1 hour, 4 minutes and 36 seconds already. Heh still got some time to see how the plot thickens, so… 'As they walked into the bedroom…' ' And so, without further ado, Kakashi turned back to his book while he waited through the test.
Once again the clearing was plunged into a time of peace. Well, as near-peace as it can get if one Hatake Kakashi is reading within said clearing. It wasn't until nearly a half hour later that one of the members of team 7 was starting to have difficulty.
'Man, this is tough. I don't know how those two can last this long and not be sweating like pigs. I bet it's because they outrank me in both chakra reserve levels and stamina. I mean look at Naruto…' To this Sakura took a small glance at said blonde. 'He looks so calm, almost no concentration on his face what so ever. And as much as I hate to admit it, he might actually prove me wrong when sensei talked about his training last night. Like I said to Sasuke-kun thins morning, he's been holding out on us. Just who are you really Naruto?' Finding no answer in mind, Sakura when back to the exercise. Nearby, Sasuke was having somewhat similar thoughts.
'He's a lot better than what he's let on. Has he been holding back this who time? Also how did he get so…insightful? As much as I hate too admit it but, he was right. Can't believe I was so blind. For now though, gotta focus on this test. I'd wager that I'm just over halfway through my reserves. Don't know how long I've been going for so I'll just have to wait till I'm done. Sigh why can't I be doing something more productive?' Pushing that thought from his mind for the moment, he then poured his all to concentrating on the task at hand. Naruto however, was having different thoughts at the moment, if only slightly.
'Hmm from the amount of focus I can see on her face, I'd say she's nearing the end of her reserves. I guess what they said about her control was true. She's come a long way, there's no doubt but, if she wants to good in this sort of life, than she's gotta work hard on raising her reserves.
Now with Sasuke, I know my words were harsh but it was needed to know some sense into him. His chakra control is just about average and has moderate chakra levels; well if he were any normal no-name low-chuunin level shinobi then it would be moderate. With his reserves and level of stamina I'd guess that he'll last just about another hour or so.
Now onto more important business, getting that fox to co-operate. From the limited know-how I know on the seal and its design, the fox's mortality is most likely bound with my own, so as I said to Kakashi-sensei last night, if I die so does the fox. For now that will be the only leverage that I can use on the fox to force it to help me if the need arises, that and the mentioning of how a weak vessel will tarnish it's reputation. So…what could be compromised…?' He continued on this train of thought, sticking upside-down on his branch, completely oblivious to his surroundings.
A little afterwards, Kakashi turned from his book when he noticed that Sakura was beginning to lose her grip. 'Hmm let's see. It's been 1 hour, 41 minutes and 22 seconds. As I thought. It will be difficult for her because of the level of her reserves but I believe she's just about ready for the next exercise, though it will only be to raise her levels instead of control. She's done well though so I'll take her beck to Tazuna's while Naruto and Sasuke continue.' Kakashi surmised as he put away his…ahem novel, and walked up to Pakkun and Kurokiba.
"How are both Sasuke and Naruto doing?" He inquired as he stopped between the nin-ken. Pakkun spoke first.
"The Uchiha is doing quite well, as expected from the Uchiha prodigy." Kakashi gave a mental sigh at this but wasn't able to ponder in his mind for the small nin-ken continued. "I bet he's over halfway through his reserves but not as far as ¾ of the way though. He'll last another hour at most." Pakkun finished while still watching over his selected quarry.
"My thoughts exactly. Now Kurokiba, how is Naruto progressing?" Kakashi asked turning from the small nin-ken to the larger one.
"He is doing better than some of the rumours I've heard about him. While the Uchiha has a few beads of sweat on his face, the Uzumaki is completely calm and serene. It's as if he's only meditating." She elaborated, never taking her dark grey orbs off of Naruto. She's didn't give Kakashi much time to mull over her words as she started again.
"I've found something quite peculiar about his scent." She started with a low whisper, just loud enough for Kakashi to hear. "He's obviously the one Yondaime chose to carry the burden since I can smell IT's scent along with his."
"Well it is to be expected for the scent to emanate from the boy since it is his burden, that and he used some of IT's chakra for the first time a few days ago. Now I must ask you, what do you think of him?" Kakashi asked while turning back to Naruto but still kept his eye on the large wolf-like nin-ken.
She gave a snort. "If you were thinking that I would think like the villagers towards the boy then you've lost some of my respect for you Hatake."
He gave her a sheepish shrug. "I'm only looking out for him, you know that. Besides, you still haven't fully answered my question."
She turned her gaze to her summoner and stared intently at him. She turned back to Naruto before answering. "Good reply. Now as for how I think of him, I can't really tell you much since I don't know him personally but, what I can tell you is that he's got a pure heart, nearly unbreakable spirit, is strong but has the brains to back it up. Also, he's got the Sandaime's fabled 'Will of Fire', and this is just from looking at him if you know how to observe the right way." She gave a small sigh then continued. "Another fact is that he will be a good mate to any female that can claim him, and look past the fact of what he is to see who he is, though it will be difficult on his part to relinquish his secret to anyone, let alone one who cares for him." Kakashi, though not quite understanding why she brought up the topic of 'mates', nodded knowingly about her last few words. It will be hard for him to trust anyone enough to actually tell them his secret. He then had a large sweatdrop and was resisting the urge to face fault when he heard the nin-ken muttering about 'giving some lucky female a good time if his stamina gives any evidence'.
She sighed once more. "If only we were of the same speci… uh, nevermind got of track. Anyway, remember what I say about his scent telling me what he is?" She asked with new-found seriousness.
Kakashi, who was watching Sakura to make sure she wouldn't get hurt, gave a quick glance to Kurokiba before answering in a whisper. "Hai, you were saying that it was peculiar because you could smell IT's scent as well."
"I did say that but, that's not what I found that was about it to be peculiar." She turned fully to Kakashi who was quick to reply.
"You mean that you found His scent to be peculiar. How so?" He enquired as he spared another glance at the female nin-ken.
"I'll get straight to the point. What I'm saying is that his scent, you-know-what aside, is nearly identical to HIM." To this Kakashi didn't answer right away. When he finally did get over the shock of what her words could mean he started to ponder.
'Hmm, now that she mentions it, the 2 of them look awfully a lot alike but, sensei never told me that he was going to have a child. He also never said anything about a spouse. That also brings up the question, who was the mother and where is she, if she's even alive for that matter. Sandaime-sama told me that the mother died during child birth and that he didn't know who the father was. I'll have to put this on my list of things to be addressed to Hokage-sama.' He finished his thought and turned to the nin-ken when a sudden thought came to him.
"Do you think that His scent could have somehow just have been part of the seal, and have just mixed with the boy's scent through the years?" She was about to answer when Sakura slipped off the side of her tree and fell towards the ground. Moving quickly, Kakashi caught her, brought her towards the nin-ken and gently placed her on the ground.
'Hmm, she's only got a slight case of chakra exhaustion. All she'll need is a good rest to replenish her reserves. Her time, 1 hour, 46 minutes and 32 seconds. Not bad, not bad at all, she passes. Even though I never told them that all they needed to do was last an hour and a half, I still wanted to see how long they would last.' He then picked her up bridal style and turned to head back to Tazuna's when he gave a final message.
"You keep watching those two. I'll be back shortly after putting Sakura to bed since she's got a light case of chakra exhaustion. Well then, Ja." Hearing a pair of 'Hai's from the nin-ken, he leapt into the trees.
When he returned he that nothing was amiss he quickly dismissed Pakkun, telling him that he would take over. He then turned to Kurokiba.
"Now then, could you please answer the question I asked before I left?" She turned her gaze from Naruto, again, to Kakashi before answering.
"If the scenario you proposed earlier were true, it would at least a few decades for the scent fusion to finish properly. No, the scent isn't coming from the seal; it's coming from the boy himself." She then turned back to watching Naruto as he continued his test.
Kakashi, however, went back to his previous spot, took out his Icha Icha Paradise and read while sparing a quick glance at Sasuke every now and then. That might have been the scene on the outside but in his mind; it was speeding around everywhere, trying to process his summons words.
'Let's look at the facts. Naruto has the looks of the Forth, his infinite supply of determination and 'Will of Fire' as the Third pit it, and as Kurokiba said, he has HIS scent. All are greats points of evidence but it could all be a coincidence. I'll talk to Sandaime to see if we can do a blood test; that will get us the most accurate way to figure out whom Naruto's parents really are. Anyway, time…1 hour, 57 minu- make that 58 minutes and 2 seconds. Now onto that kitchen scene…' And with that, he returned to really reading his 'novel', with quiet perverted giggles and page flips ringing in the air.
And once AGAIN the scene within the clearing returned to being anti-climatic and remained so for some time. But, as the predictions foretold, after just over an hour later, Sasuke's hold on his tree began to crumble.
'Tch, kuso, my reserves are almost gone, I'd probably get another 5 minutes while running the risk of chakra exhaustion, might as well just stop now.' Without further a do, he leaped from his perch and landed a little bit from Kurokiba, crouched over somewhat while panting. She gave a small glance at the Uchiha while he regained his breath before turning to Naruto. Sasuke followed her gaze and gave a small frown while he watched his team mate.
'I really hate to admit it but, he's better than I thought he would be. I'm sweating and panting as if I was in the middle of Wind country while he only has a few beads of sweat going down his face.' His frown slowly turned into a smirk as a sudden thought came to him. 'He might… actually be a challenge for me.' He may have gotten the bashing of his life and given a huge eye opener, but it did nothing about his attitude and ego. Arrogance, it seems, is as much part of the Uchiha blood as was his newly awakened Sharingan.
He made his way over to his sensei. Upon reaching his destination, he sat down to the right of Kakashi as he took a small breather. Once he caught his breath, he turned to the currently reading 'Sharingan Kakashi'.
"..How'd I do?" The question was a simple one and his sensei gave a simple answer.
"2hours, 47 minutes and 32 seconds. Good job by the way, you pass." He said while giving the dark haired youth his infamous U-eye smile, before turning back to his novel.
"Hn thought it was shorter." Sasuke mumbled to himself. Truthfully, the actual time was a bit of a surprise to him and he actually thought that his time was shorter.
"..Did Sakura pass?" This came as a surprise to Kakashi, though he didn't show it.
'Hmm, seems Naruto's words are already taking some effect on him.' He mused before replying.
"Yes she did Sasuke. She's at Tazuna's right now taking a rest, in case you wanted to know. You should do the same." He finished off with a simple page flip.
"Hn whatever." Sasuke muttered as he turned away from his sensei. Said sensei mentally sighed at his pupil's words, or lack thereof. 'Well it might not be much but it is a definite improvement.' With that done, silence reined supreme once again in the clearing.
It wasn't until just after Kakashi had just counted past 3 hours that the silence was broken. The silver haired sensei had sensed the figures movement and it was coming closer to the clearing. Both teacher, student and summon heard faint rustling in the foliage upwind of the clearing. Sasuke quickly jumped up, took a kunai in each hand and took a defensive stance in the middle of the clearing near Kurokiba. He watched as she turned and growled at the direction of the rustling but stopped as a breeze came by, carrying the scent of the intruder with it. Smelling the scent and recognizing it, she gave a small smirk and turned back to watching Naruto, who hadn't noticed a thing.
Sasuke, who missed Kurokiba's smirk, frowned at the nin-ken's actions. He turned to Kakashi but his frown grew as he noted that Kakashi hadn't shifted from his spot, continuing to read. The dark-haired youth wasn't given the time to ponder their actions as three shuriken flew through the foliage, aimed directly at Naruto! Upon reflex, Sasuke launched both his kunai, taking out two shuriken. He quickly went for another but was too late.
The last shuriken hit dead center of Naruto's neck. Losing control because of the sudden impact, he fell to the ground. Dropping the kunai, Sasuke made a mad dash to catch his falling team mate. His mind was going a mile a minute, berating himself the whole time he ran.
'Kuso, kuso, kuso! I knew I shouldn't have let my guard down! How can I kill Him when I can even save the dobe because of his car-' Both his mind and body came to an abrupt halt when Naruto's body disappeared into a puff of smoke, leaving a clean shuriken. While the boy was still in shock, Kakashi dismissed Kurokiba. Going back to his book he thought over the recent set of events.
'He's gotten better at throwing shuriken while Sasuke still had good aim and has good reaction time in an emergency. Gotta be prepared for when the shock wears off though.' It was about then that Sasuke was able to make a coherent thought.
'It was… a bunshin.' The small mantra repeated over and over again in his mind as his shock wore off fully and his anger came crashing in.
'It was just a fucking bunshin!' His browns furrowed while his frown turned into a grimace as his anger grew. It was irking him to no end that the so-called 'dead-last', 'dobe' and idiot could be stronger than him. He was supposed to be the strongest. He was the Rookie of the year. And the list went on in his mind. Somewhere in the back of his mind though, the words of both his reasoning and his blonde team mate were trying to come forth. Sasuke just shut them out, too angry to care what they were.
Kakashi, observing the Uchiha while waiting for the intruder, resisted the urge to sigh.
'It seems that all of his progress was for nought, his greed for power will surely be the end of him unless he's swayed away from the dark path he's treading. Now let's see about this situation.' Kakashi thought as he moved from his spot, while putting away his 'novel', towards the brooding Uchiha. Said boy flinched and spun around when he felt a hand on his shoulder, only to find his sensei there looking at him with a lazy yet calculative eye. He gave a nearly inaudible 'che' before shrugging off his sensei's hand, stuffing his hands in his pockets and began his trek back over to Tazuna's for some rest.
Kakashi watched with a lazy eye as Sasuke left the clearing. When he knew that the boy was out of hearing distance, he let out a large sigh while slumping his shoulders before setting them straight again as he turned to the tree where the shuriken were thrown from.
"Alright Naruto, I know your there so there's no point in hiding." He said calmly while Naruto dropped from the trees, landing in a slight crouch. Once he stood up, he scratched the side of his cheek, while giving Kakashi a small sheepish look.
"Hehehe…so how long did you know it was me?" He asked while crossing his arms, giving his teacher a small, slight mischievous-like smile. With his hands in his pockets, Kakashi walked towards the blond pupil before answering.
"I knew something was up as soon as we entered the forest. Your stealth has gotten better by the way. When did you switch with the Kage-bunshin?"
"I made the switch when I used the washroom before we even left." Naruto replied as Kakashi gave a small nod, accepting his answer. Before he could continue, Kakashi brought up a new topic.
"You do know that you just moved yourself back a few steps with Sasuke right?" He watched as Naruto unfolded his arms, and gave a small sigh.
"I know. All I meant to do though was to see how long I could keep the bunshin going as 'he' did the test." He stuffed his hands in his pockets as he turned his gaze away from Kakashi.
Said man released a small sigh while shaking his head. "I understand that Naruto, but, just try to remember the next you attempt something like that again that you could do a lot worse than hand Sasuke a large blow to his pride." 'Even though it does need to be dropped a peg or two.' "Think before you do as well as what could happen because of your actions alright?"
"I understand Kakashi-sensei." Naruto replied as he gave the silver-haired sensei a small nod.
"Also as punishment, you'll have to master ALL of the jutsu and the water walking technique before I even start to teach you the Suiton: Suiryuuendan-no-jutsu. And don't give me that look Naruto. I could vary well decide not to teach you the jutsu at all." Naruto sighed in defeat. Kakashi though, suddenly gave Naruto his infamous U-eye smile before speaking.
"On a brighter note, you all pass. Also Naruto, I was wondering when you got the time to practice your stealth." He saw Naruto give a slight chuckle before looking at him.
"When your being chased around by ANBU for pulling a prank, you pick up a few things while trying to either run from them or sneak by them."
A sweatdrop formed on the back of Kakashi's head at that. 'So that's why, that and his stamina, Kyuubi aside. It's no wonder though; to be able to escape ANBU pursuit for any length of time takes a great amount of stamina, and stealth to sneak by them unnoticed. Once again you surprise me Uzumaki Naruto.' He mused before an afterthought came to him. 'If I find out who chased him, oh the amount of black-mail I could use on them…' He gave a small chuckle before addressing his student.
"Alright, again, let me know about what you plan on doing. Let's head back; it'll be around another hour or so till dinner. Seeing Naruto's nod, they both jumped out of the clearing, neither one aware of the pair of soft blue eyes that were hidden in the bushes.
A poll's starting now. Just choose one of the following names and you will see the winning results once the story gets around towards the Sasuke retrieval ark. And to say right now, this poll isn't about pairings. Alright the choices are
And as stated at the top of the page, please review. The next update will probably be around from April to May. I will show my review replies when I post up the next chapter. Till next time.
To everyone who has voted already, thank you for your vote, I'll put the stats next chapter.